By Anthony Sheridan
For ordinary Irish citizens, corruption is a dark, malignant everyday reality that causes endless loss and suffering. The political system, the financial sector, planning, property, you name it, corruption is rampant and routine among the top tiers of Irish society. The disease does immeasurable damage to the wealth, health and aspirations of ordinary people.
But in the warm, comfortable bubble where the establishment media happily coexist with the powerful and the corrupt, there is no such thing as corruption. Instead, there is a mysterious entity universally referred to as ‘culture’.
So, for example, there’s no corruption in our police force, our banks or our political system, just this inexplicable abstraction called ‘culture’.
And, apparently, all that’s needed to bring a halt to the massive damage caused by this mysterious ‘culture’ is the application of another magic word – ‘reform’.
So, basically, that’s all establishment journalists write or talk about, culture and reform and it’s off to the Dail bar for drinks – happy days.
But despite the availability of these magic, truth avoiding words, it can still be difficult for establishment journalists to write about corruption without actually using the dreaded ‘C’ word.
Take for example a recent article by Irish Times journalist Kathy Sheridan in which she reflects on the catastrophic economic crash of 2008 which occurred as a direct result of corruption in the political and financial sectors.
The corruption word does not, of course, make an appearance but, to her credit, the truth-avoiding ‘culture’ word only appears in the very last paragraph.
Instead, Ms. Sheridan falls back on another strategy commonly employed by those who are afraid of speaking truth to power. While ostensibly analysing the Irish economic catastrophe she focuses the bulk of her analysis on events in another country thus sparing the blushes of those who wield power in Ireland.
At the beginning of her article she accepts that the people are angry and have lost trust in the system. The bulk of the article is then filled with a long, meandering story about some American financial wizard before ending with a sermonising quote that’s probably meant, somehow, to bring comfort to the countless victims of the rampant corruption here in Ireland.
It’s about trust, yes. It’s about culture, [oh, there’s that word] behaviour and accountability. But like almost everything that makes life bearable, it’s also about common decency.
Ah yes, common decency. Now if only establishment journalists like Ms Sheridan could bring themselves to speak truth to power, to actually use the ‘corruption’ word, to name those who peddle the disease of corruption to enrich themselves while destroying the lives of so many.
Then, I’m sure, life would be much more bearable for all of us.